Reviews for Heart of Darkness : Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe
Book News Reviews
This book is essentially a history of cosmology that spans the earliest efforts of the ancient Greeks through to Copernicus and Galileo, Einstein's theory of relativity, quantum theory and finally modern times. The second half of the book concerns ongoing questions: the roles of dark matter and dark energy; the rapid inflationary expansion of the early universe; the origins of the elements; and the origins, structure, and ultimate fate of the universe. It takes the reader into late 20th and early 21st century attempts to understand these phenomena and some of the technologies needed to investigate them such as the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) and Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) probes. There is a strong emphasis throughout the book on the need for science, particularly cosmology, to stay focused on empirical data gathering, the construction of theoretical frameworks, and the creation of testable theories. This latter element is a special challenge for cosmologies, though supercomputer simulation can be a helpful tool when direct observation is not possible. Though written primarily for the scientific-minded layman there are two short appendices that provide a more detailed and mathematical formalism than the main text. There is a mix of color and b&w figures throughout the book and a helpful glossary of terms near the end. Annotation ©2013 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Choice Reviews 2013 September
As the title suggests, Heart of Darkness is a mystery story. Ostriker (Princeton Univ.), a pioneer in cosmology, and Mitton (Univ. of Cambridge, UK), an astronomer and an exceptionally talented science writer, sleuth out the clues and witnesses to nothing less than the darkest secrets of the universe. The current quest to determine the nature of dark matter and dark energy has its roots in Copernicus's early notion that the Earth need not be at the center of the solar system. From this foundation, the authors introduce the reader to a host of witnesses and suspects throughout history, many of whom have received less appreciation than they deserve in other books on cosmology. Here is a new and welcome perspective on modern cosmology that any reader can easily grasp and appreciate. Excellent archival photos and a very useful appendix that clearly and simply explains some of the essential mathematical concepts add to the pleasure of reading this book. Written with authority and flair, this is one of the very best books on the topic. Recommended reading for any science buff! Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. T. D. Oswalt Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Copyright 2013 American Library Association.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 December #1
A lucid history of cosmology. Ostriker (Astrophysical Sciences/Princeton Univ.; Development of Large Scale Structure in the Universe, 1992, etc.) and British science historian Mitton (Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science, 2005, etc.) illustrate J.B.S. Haldane's famous quote that "the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose." The Greeks proved that the Earth was round and determined its circumference. Copernicus placed the sun at the center of the solar system, and Kepler described planetary movements. Newton founded cosmology by asserting that his laws applied everywhere. Einstein showed how gravity rules the universe, and Hubble proved that it was expanding. By 1970, scientists agreed that everything (matter, energy, space, even time) began with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Having delivered the history, the authors pose obvious questions: Will the universe expand forever, or will gravity reverse matters? Since the Big Bang produced a uniform soup of energy and simple elements, how did stars, galaxies and planets form? Where did heavier elements come from? Where did we come from? Astrophysicists can explain how galaxies formed and how exploding stars produced heavier elements and eventually us. The universe's future seemed comprehensible until two discoveries muddied the waters. By 1980, it was clear that most matter in the universe is "dark"--literally invisible, detectable only because of gravitational effects. By the 1990s, researchers realized that most energy is also "dark," permeating space, opposing gravity and accelerating expansion. With infectious enthusiasm, diagrams and even a little high school math, the authors deliver the available answers along with the increasing confusion. A fine introduction to cosmology but rich enough to inform readers familiar with other introductions. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #5
For Conrad, it was the Congo; for Ostriker (Formation of Structure in the Universe) and Mitton (The Young Oxford Book of Astronomy), it's deep space, dark matter, and dark energy. In this stimulating study, the Princeton astrophysics professor and University of Cambridge scholar offer a compelling insider's take on how astronomers have worked to reveal the mystery that is our universe. After a quick review of the long history of astronomy, the duo dive headlong into the 20th century and Einstein's paradigm-crushing work on relativity, gravity, and time, which--coupled with technological improvements--laid the foundations for a modern cosmology based on "expansion--of vision, mind-set, and of the physical universe itself." Indeed, the Big Bang sent galaxies racing outward, and the resulting universe is a "quantum soup" riddled with " ‘holes,' ‘filaments,' and ‘walls.' " Here the authors prove their scientific mettle, exploring current research into the structure of the universe, including dark matter that holds galaxies together, and mind-boggling dark energy, whose strength uniquely increases in proportion to expanding intergalactic distances. Ostriker and Mitton's knowledge is vast, and while they acknowledge that our understanding of the universe is far from complete, this thought-provoking presentation is as accessible as it is exciting. Photos & illus. (Feb.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC